Along with their boy band counterparts/friends/pseudo-rivals The Wanted, U.K. group One Direction has helped revive a left-for-dead genre of pop music by capturing the fancy of their native country in an incredibly short time. After finishing third on the British version of "The X Factor," Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson inked a deal with Syco Records, released their debut album, "Up All Night," in the U.K. last November, racked up over 100 million YouTube views for the music videos for the album's first three singles, and defeated artists like Adele, Jessie J, and Ed Sheeran at the 2012 BRIT Awards when "What Makes You Beautiful" was named Best British Single.
One Direction's popularity is growing, and with the March 13 U.S. release of "Up All Night," the boys have set their sights on the States. One question remains: is the music any good?
Let's get this right out of the way: first single "What Makes You Beautiful" is the real deal. The song may not have earned its win over Adele's "Someone Like You" at the BRIT Awards, but One Direction's smash hit is as endlessly playable as "Bye Bye Bye" or "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," and as unstoppable as its 65 million Vevo views suggest. As the first song on "Up All Night," "What Makes You Beautiful" leads a front-loaded effort -- its first three songs have doubled as its first three singles in the U.K. -- that can make the debut album feel a bit top-heavy. Themes of innocent romance are constant throughout "Up All Night," but tracks like "Gotta Be You" and "More Than This" hit a mark more smoothly than songs like "Everything About You" and "Taken."